Belvidere fighting human trafficking with massage parlor arrest

Local News

BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Late last year, Belvidere shut down several massage parlors and now another one may be forced to close its doors.

On Monday, police executed a search warrant at the Hot Stone Spa, 2184 N. State Street. City officials say this is part of an ongoing battle to stop prostitution and human trafficking as they work to rid Belvidere of illegal activity.

Mayor Mike Chamberlain said, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, these guys never give up, the gentlemen and ladies of the police department, until we get done what we’re trying to do.”

After four massage parlors were shut down several months ago, two more women were charged.

Belvidere Police arrested 45-year-old Eun M. Lee, of Des Plaines. Police are searching for 67-year-old Mae Hwa Roberts, of Belvidere.

Both are charged with violating the massage licensing act.

Deputy Chief of Investigations Matthew Wallace says the women may have been part of a human trafficking operation.

“I absolutely believe that,” Wallace said. “That is something going on. Previous investigations into these groups have involved Homeland Security.”

While Mayor Chamberlain is glad the massage parlors are closed, he says this shouldn’t stop anyone who wants to open a legitimate massage therapy business in the city.

“Because it becomes very obvious from the very beginning of a conversation with somebody who is a legitimate physical therapist that they’re a legitimate physical therapist that went to school to learn,” said Mayor Chamberlain. “They took kinesiology, you know, they took anatomy, they attach themselves to gym or a doctors office.”

Deputy Chief Wallace also said that police were tipped off about the massage parlor’s activities, which led to the investigation.

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